Save the bees.
We hear this refrain constantly these days, but have you ever stopped to wonder why? What’s so important about those little insects? Here are three reasons--other than honey, though that’s a good one--the world needs bees:
Our economy depends on bees.
It sounds exaggerated to say, but the fate of the global economy rests on the tiny thoraxes of the world’s bees. According to Bryan Walsh, who wrote about the plight of honeybees for TIME, “...bees add at least $15 billion in crop value through pollination in the U.S. alone.” Imagine the impact of a $15 billion crop loss to farmers, distributors, grocers, and consumers. There are some crops that rely entirely on bees. These include avocados, almonds, onions, and sunflowers. Can you picture a world without any of those? Our breakfast toasts would be bare!
Seriously, though, there are even more crops that rely almost entirely or partially on bees, crops like apples, pumpkins, cucumbers, mangoes, cotton, and more. The economy would collapse without these agricultural products. So many industries wouldn’t survive without bees, losing jobs and income for countless workers around the globe.
Plus, bees pollinate the crops that feed livestock, so the impact trickles down to you, the grocery store shopper: “Bees pollinate clover, hay, and other forage crops. As they die off, it raises the cost of feedstock. That increases beef and milk prices at the grocery store.”
Our planet relies on bees.
Biodiversity: “the variety and variability of life on Earth.” Without a diverse ecosystem, plants and animals would disappear. That’s happening already as we destroy habitats and drive plants and animals to extinction.
The World Bee Project explains it further: “Biodiversity is important because it provides a source of significant economic, environmental, health and cultural benefits. It provides us with a large amount of goods and services (such as food, medicine, raw materials and clothing) that help us to sustain life on earth. It is these goods and services that allow us to live on this planet.”
We know bees pollinate plants, including around 30 percent of the food we humans consume. That loss would be catastrophic for humans as we considered above, but what about the survival of the plants themselves? And the other animals and insects that rely on pollination? Everything on the planet is interconnected, from the tiniest microbe living in the soil to the enormous redwoods dotting the west coast. Bees play an integral role in all of those lifecycles. Without bees, none could survive.
Speaking of survival… It probably goes without saying, but if we lose 30 percent of our food crops and we lose the crops that feed our livestock and the world’s biodiversity continues to disappear, well, we humans don’t stand much of a chance.
And while all this sounds doom-and-gloom, the reality is that there’s a lot we all can do to help bees… starting with the simplest of all: Don’t squash them! There’s no reason to be afraid of bees. Don’t bug them, and they won’t bug you! (Pun totally intended…) When a bee buzzes your picnic or flies around your yard, simply ignore them and allow them to go about their pollination business.
You can also create a bee-friendly yard--more on that in an upcoming post--even if you just have a small window box or patio.
Finally, if you have a local apiary or farmer’s market, pick up some locally-produced honey. You’ll support the bee business while getting a sweet treat for you that you can share (in moderation) with your pup! You’ll go a long way toward helping save the bees!